Theatre review: Dalloway, Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh

' Vaughan’s performance is pitch-perfect, delicate, nuanced, shifting fluidly among the book’s many characters, always returning to the centre, Clarissa Dalloway: society hostess, dutiful wife, endlessly questioning consciousness.'

Dalloway, Assembly Roxy (Venue 139)
Dalloway, Assembly Roxy (Venue 139)

Dalloway, Assembly Roxy * * * *

Last year at the Fringe, the same team from Dyad Productions – writer/director Elton Townend Jones and solo performer Rebecca Vaughan – delivered a storming adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. They’re back this year with a new version of another Woolf novel, Mrs Dalloway.

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Structurally, the books are almost diametrically opposed. While Orlando is a sweeping journey through time, place and gender with a single burning consciousness at its heart, Mrs

Dalloway takes place on a single day in London in 1923, a fragmented semi-narrative which floats from character to character and drifts between external observation and internal monologue.

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She flits between possible selves, regretting her lost loves, male and female, fearing ageing and death, constrained by her position in society and by her gender – unknown, at times, even to herself.

Townend Jones’ adaptation contains all this, and the world which opens out from it: 1920s London, full of myriad life, intrigue, gossip, pain; the old guard of English society, straightjacketed by class and convention; the echoes of the recent war, typified in the tragic figure of Septimus Warren Smith, haunted by hallucinations and dead comrades.

Dyad has synthesised Woolf’s novel into a glorious 90 minutes of theatre. An elegant black and white set and the simple device of church bells tolling the hours sketch the context without distracting from the performance. In the midst of it all weaves a story about love, longing, secrets, regrets, and – just occasionally – the wild joy of being alive to the moment.

Susan Mansfield

Until 26 August